Dalcroze Eurhythmics Dalcroze for Children Teaching

Week 2 (9/27/16)

The 4:45 group (7-9 year-olds) had their best session yet. Here’s what we did:

  • Explore ways to walk (heels, toes, sideways, large steps, small steps, through molasses, without picking up your feet, etc.)
    • Sometimes at this age, creativity can take a back seat for a while as skill mastery moves to the fore. In this case though, the students were quite actively exploring from many different angles. Music accompanied each soloist’s walk, as did, eventually, the entire group.
  • Quick Reaction: Students walk; at the command ‘hop’, execute one skip.
    • The music for the skip is a dotted eighth and sixteenth. The quick reaction exercise requires close listening to perform well. The changes in the music hopefully are a good balance of expectation and surprise.
  • Register follow: if you hear high notes, move your hands; low notes move your feet.
    • I played quarters, eighths and half notes. The students became pretty adept at switching in unexpected places. We began to combine two different rhythms in feet and hands, known as a ‘dissociation’.
  • Song: If You Dance
    • This is a round which we will return to. It contains quarters, eighths and half notes. We practiced stepping the rhythm of the song. By the end of the practice, the class was able to sing the round (without me ever explicitly teaching the song).
  • Human Scale
    • Students are arranged in a row, and assigned a particular note of the scale (1-8). Conductor (me or a student) points to a student, and he or she sings their note. The kids got pretty good at this. They were able to sing up and down with their individual notes, and could match pitch with the piano if the conductor called for larger leaps. Towards the end of the exercise, the conductors became smarter about their melody making, facilitating greater accuracy in their human ‘instrument’.

Because of the way the Jewish Holidays fall in the month of October, there are no classes now until November. Enjoy the month!


Dalcroze Eurhythmics Dalcroze for Children Teaching

7-9 Year-Olds: September

Welcome parents and family members of the new Dalcroze class for 7 to 9-year-olds at the Lucy Moses School. I am pleased we were able to expand our program to include older children this year! Because it is sometimes difficult – even for adult Dalcroze students – to be able to articulate just what happened in class, and what the objectives were, I will periodically share some of our activities and my observation of the students.

Dalcroze education can be thought of as a music theory class in which the learning through direct experience. As this is only our second class, we are still getting to know each other. Most of the things I have been doing have allowed me to watch and gauge their responses in different contexts.  Some of the activities gave the children complete freedom, and some were very specific. Both told me a lot about what kinds of experiences the students have had. My sense is that the class members have had many different kinds of musical experience in their lives so far. Fortunately, the Dalcroze work can support them all.

Here are some of the things we did yesterday.

Activities from 9/21/16

  • All move freely. Teacher chooses one student, and plays music to match their movement. Students later guess which student was being played.
    • This was an attempt to explore free movement. Students all have different experiences with creative and purposeful movement: some with dance, some with Dalcroze, maybe some without formal experiences. This gave me a chance to get to know them in this context. Many seemed unsure as to what to do, so as a preliminary, I introduced some basic oppositions: fast/slow, high/low, curvy/straight, etc. The other large idea here, a signature for Dalcroze, is that improvised music can match a person’s movement. For some this was a new experience, and seemed to generate a bit of self – consciousness. This is natural for this age group, and will likely disappear over time.
  • Associate gestures and syllables with quarters, eighths and sixteenths. Respond to music that changes between the different durations.
  • Each child stands in a hoop. For quarter notes, they march in place. For eighth notes, they run around the hoop. For 16th notes, they sit.
    • These activities called for a very specific response, as opposed to getting activity.
  • All move to the music. if the music ends on V (sol), find a hoop to stand in. If the music ends on I (Do), find a hoop to sit down in.
    • This activity is more of a combination of free and specific. Some found this activity more challenging. Others, were quite successful right away.
  • Free improvisation with percussion instruments. Play so that you can hear the softest instrument.
    • I decided to end with something very free to balance out preceding restricted activities. Many of children seemed to really respond to this opportunity. We will do more!


Please check back for future updates on our class. I welcome your comments, questions and feedback!